Every race on an athletic track is governed by laid down rules to guide the athletes. Athletes adhere to these rules strictly so that they are not disqualified from the race and consequently, from obtaining the prize.
A relay race is a track and field event in which athletes run a predetermined distance carrying a baton before passing it on to the next runner. In running an athletic relay, certain requirements must be met as rules governing the race.
It is worth mentioning that there is a race marked for everybody. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked for us” (Heb 12:1c, NIV). This piece explores four requirements of an athletic race as it relates to our life race, so we can run with our purpose for existence in mind and aim to fulfill it. They include a relay track, sports vest, the baton, and the finish line.
RUN ON YOUR TRACK: It is imperative for everyone to run his race on the track marked out for him. Find out from God the track earmarked for you so that you don’t run on another’s track.
“I know O Lord that a man’s life is not its own, it is not for a man to direct his steps” (Jer 10:23, NIV). Your life’s race or purpose is not yours to choose but to discover. As you run, you should do so on your track while looking forward to the finish line.
SPORTS VEST: Athletes run in sportswear suitable for the race. They run light, without tracksuits, heels, or baggage. All these weights are not required for the race; they hamper speed and hinder the race. In the same vein, it is important to run your race light.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb 12:1b-c, NIV).
Do away with habits, relationships, attitude or whatever your weights represent, so you can run light and fast. Also, do away with sin, it is a weight that easily beset and decelerates your pace. A man of purpose does not toy with sin but flees from sin instead. Weights differ from one person to the other. A man’s weight can be in his friendship and another his habits. Whatever the weight is, it’s up to you to both determine it and get rid of it. If you can determine it, you can do away with it.
THE BATON: Athletes run with a baton in a relay to hand over once they run the meters set out for them. The baton is likened to the message God gives you.
“Then the Lord said to me “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others” (Hab 2:2, NLT). Declare God’s commandments, make known the message he has given you. It is also pertinent that you not only run your race with the message God has given you, but also pass it on successfully to the one that will continue with the race. The message must be passed on to your children (biological and spiritual), protégée, mentee, or whoever continues the race from where you stopped. Give the correct message to your children, instruct them in righteousness and pass on the faith to them so that they can run with it. Your children are your continuity, let them run and pass the baton on to their children. The athlete whose baton falls while running stops to pick it and continues the race. He picks the baton to hand over to the next runner; else disqualification is imminent. Like that athlete, ensure you pass on the correct message.
FINISH LINE: Athletes run with their eyes on the finish line. They approach the line with all determination; reach their head over the finish line as they mark a victory. The race is sandwiched between take off line and finish line. The fact that you started the race does not necessarily mean you will finish it. It is important to maintain focus while engaging the race.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2a, NIV). Run with determination from start to finish, maintaining your focus on Christ. Don’t look back, but press on.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14).
In a race, looking back or sidewards at other competitors is not healthy; it is distracting and can reduce your pace. Comparatively, don’t look back or compare yourself with others as you run your race.
“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13b-14, KJV); "Comparing themselves among themselves are not wise” (2Cor 10:12b, KJV).
Let others run their race, you will account for yours and not theirs. It is therefore important to shun distractions and press on to complete yours. Crossing the finish line signal completion, so it’s important not to give up midway even if others have gone far ahead. In the course of running, some athletes’ trip for instance to muscle cramp and many a time, they rise again and press on to cross the finish line. Even if you fall to sin, by your misdemeanor or satanic onslaught, don’t be discouraged, rise again and press on.
“Though a just man falls seven times, he rises again” (Prov 24:16a-NIV); “At least there is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again; yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant” (Job 14:7a,9, NIV).
Therefore run, the floor is not the finish line; the middle is not the end. If you can get up and keep up with the race, you will definitely reach the finish line. Do not be complacent with halfway achievements, there is more distance to cover; keep pacing. Falling is not synonymous with premature end, it becomes so only for the one who chose to give up on the race. In your race, depend on God, He is faithful and will see you through.
After you have obeyed the rules and finished the race, it is a mark of victory and you obtain your prize.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1cor 9:24, NIV). Running your race is good, but more importantly, running to obtain the prize is fulfilling. The prize is proof of your race, your testimony that you began the race, obeyed the rules and finished the race. Discipline is a vital necessity in the race
“So I do not run aimlessly, but I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 cor 9:26-27, ESV).
Indiscipline is a mark of running
aimlessly, though you are running, you are doing so on the path of
anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victors crown unless he
competes according to the rules” (2Tim 2:5, NIV). As a matter of necessity, stick to the rules because your prize is
the joy of your race and the reward of your labor. Conversely, disqualification
is the fruit of an aimless race.
Dear Reader, life is a race. We are all running an eternal race however we run. The moment you gave your life to Jesus Christ, you enlisted on a race, stick to His rules, run to the end and receive your prize. The baton of faith must be passed on to the next person, which could be your children, biological, spiritual or otherwise) to continue the race. Give them a baton (the message and every meaningful investment) and let them run their path. It is running at a loss to run lackadaisically and become disqualified when a crown is possible.
If you have not received Jesus, you are also in a race, but you are running in a reverse direction, it’s a race that leads to death. When an umpire blows a whistle in the athletic race and the athlete turned back and began to run, he will never reach the finish line no matter his pace. The faster he runs, the farther he drifts from the defined track for his life. If you are running on the reverse direction, pause that race, turn around to run smart and on your track. It begins and ends in Jesus.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; Jesus said to him I am the way, the truth and the life. No one cometh to the Father except through me” (Heb 12:2; John 14:6, NKJV).
Jesus loves you and died for the excess baggage of sin, don’t bear its burden, run light and run right. Receive Jesus and commence the race that leads to life.
“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:10, NKJV). A decisive and heartfelt prayer can usher you into life:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you died for my sins and I receive you as my Lord and Savior today, amen.God bless you!